Welcome to the first of our impression articles for E3 2021, a series about games that we were lucky enough to either get our hands on or see behind the scenes. We aim to provide you with a brief breakdown of what you can expect from upcoming games and highlight some that might not be on your radar!
Publisher Hooded Horse was kind enough to invite us for a behind-the-scenes look at their upcoming sci-fi games developed by three separate developers, each with a unique hook and lots of exciting content. Terra Invicta was the first game we saw.
A Grand Strategy Alien Invasion Simulator
Terra Invicta has an interesting premise that you don’t see much in other grand strategy games. The setting kicks off when an extraterrestrial probe is discovered in the vicinity of the Earth. Its arrival marks an impending alien invasion, as the visitors from outer space start scheming and planning for infiltration.
The game follows a very complex political system that mirrors the nations of today as they all form their own agendas, unwilling to unite to address the alien arrival. With doom looming over Earth’s head, secret factions are formed, each with their own hopes, fear and greed. In between this turmoil, transnational groups of like-minded political, military and scientific leaders develop covert channels to coordinate a response.
A Mirror World of Our Own
The first thing discussed during the presentation was how the world follows an intricate political system based on our Earth, with different countries present in geographically accurate places and planets where you’d expect them to be in our system.
There are different factions born out of the impending conflict, each with its own quirk:
- The Resistance works to form an alliance of nations to mount a coordinated defence
- Humanity First vows to exterminate the aliens alongside any who sympathize with them
- The Servants worship the aliens and believe they will solve all the troubles of the world
- The Protectorate advocates negotiated surrender as the only means to avoid annihilation
- The Academy hopes the alien arrival heralds the opportunity to form an interstellar alliance
- The Initiative seeks to profit from the chaos and destruction
- Project Exodus plans to build a massive starship and flee the solar system
Because of the variety in ideologies, each faction has a different win condition that resonates with their ideas and ambitions, focusing on different goals. You get different menus and overviews that let you peek into the efficiencies and workings of different nations to keep on top of the developing situation.
Political Sim Meets Sci-Fi RTS
A little tease was given on the deep political system running behind the game, with interesting high-level economic aspects providing the opportunity for some sandbox gameplay. You can infiltrate and influence different nations and their governments to work towards your agenda, whether it be in the form of convincing a country to build more space stations or even finding infiltrators from outer space.
The game seems to be an interesting mix between your more traditional politics driven grand-strategy on Earth and high-concept RTS action set in outer space where you construct and command different vessels and exploit different planets.
You can expand your efforts into space by building bases on different planets to harvest resources unique to different worlds, making each choice a potential turning point for the invasion. The developers mentioned that it is always easier to mine resources on a planet than requesting resources from Earth. It is these considerations and research into the setting that make these elements stand out.
We were given a brief look into some space stations and a base in Mars with modular parts that can be built based on your prerogative and goals. Ultimately, it felt like an attractive 2-sided coin with each half giving you a different experience, but non-getting in the way of each other as countries and stations run based on your decisions in the background.
High-Level Economic Systems
As mentioned earlier, the game has interesting economic systems and models that work off a high-level treatment similar to our world. You can influence different nations’ funding to further your own goal or sabotage their standings.
An interesting point was mentioned regarding resources: as certain metals or resources brought from space could influence the price and value of different Earthly commodities and the standing of different nations. It is up to you as a player to decide what to do with these resources and who they ultimately end up helping or hindering.
Whilst this might feel like an intricate system on its own, it’s done in a very high-level manner, managing to merge well with other aspects of the game without going too deep or contrasting with the overall gameplay.
E.T. Don’t Rest
When you are busy playing with your world’s politics or discovering the furthest reaches of space, the aliens aren’t just sleeping as it was teased that they are preparing and scheming too, with some even trying to topple you from the inside.
This gives a unique angle for players to keep an eye on, as not only will you have to think about your actions, but anticipate those of your enemy as well, making the affair a thrilling game of cat-and-mouse.
Overall, the game and its systems looked enjoyable, with various mechanics and features that will keep players on their toes as they plan to stop or influence an alien invasion. It was impressive to see just how much research the developers have put into the scenario, each aspect opening up interesting sandbox possibilities and consequences. Not to mention, with the depth and variety present, it will surely cater to both the casual and hardcore strategy and sci-fi fans.